Mommy to Nicholas Warren
November 7, 2008
Newmarket, Ontario, Canada
My name is Leanna. I am a wife to one and a mommy to four beautiful children. Three of them walk beside me every day and one flies high above, never too far away. His name is Nicholas.
“I would rather have had one breath of his hair..
one kiss of his mouth..
one touch of his hand..
than an eternity without it..”
This has become one my all time favourite quotes. It gets me through the tough times. It helps me to stay focused on the blessings that life has given me. This quote is gently engraved into Nicholas ‘ Memorial stone. It embodies or love and appreciation that his life and death have imparted on our lives.
This is our story….. Two and a half years ago my husband and I received the most devastating, unbearable and confusing news any parent can hear. Our third son, the baby we had planned. The baby we grew with, the baby we loved… was in a desperately grave condition. We were forced to face any parents worst torture ~ the unfathomable reality that our beloved child was unable to survive outside of the womb. The fact that our son’s ultimate fate was death – even before he drew his first breath.
My pregnancy was eventful. At almost 20 weeks I was rushed to the hospital and had emergency surgery to remove an 8 cm cyst that had twisted my ovary. Life-saving surgery for both myself and baby. Several doctor’s, nurses and technicians assured us that our baby boy was just fine. Safe, healthy and totally oblivious to the pain mommy was experiencing. I remember constantly thanking God for that. I gladly took every ounce of pain just knowing that our baby was thriving. As much as his strong kicks hurt my incisions, the tears I shed were those of gratitude. I remember every kick …. Every hiccup and I rejoiced in the fact that we had survived such a life threatening event.
I was released from the hospital and went home to rest. Quite a few weeks later, during a routine scan, my OB requested I be seen by a high risk doctor to rule out any possible problems with our baby’s ventricles in the brain. My OB was fairly certain everything was fine, but with everything we went through to get there, he wanted to be sure. I wasn’t worried. I hardly thought about it. Just an over cautious doctor, which I was grateful for. In just a few short weeks our lives changed from anxiously expecting another beautiful, healthy son very shortly to living a nightmare in which we would never wake from. The high risk doctor confirmed that our baby’s ventricles were indeed enlarged. Grossly enlarged…. She immediately sent us to Mt. Sinai hospital where we endured many questions, tests and long, agonizing waits.
I don’t remember much about that day, especially the latter half. I remember being escorted into an office. There were pictures of African animals everywhere…. A trip the owner of the office had taken, no doubt. Pictures of smiling children, happy families… seemingly taunting us. I remember my eyes being glazed over like they have never been before. I remember holding my husband’s hand so tightly.. for fear I would melt to the floor. We sat and we listened through the sobs to the doctors talking about our baby. Our perfect little boy. The baby who we were told was perfectly fine just a week ago. We listened as they told us that his sweet little brain had ceased to develop or it had recessed after my attack, my surgery. All that continued to run through my head was that I deprived my own child the very oxygen and blood necessary to grow…. I failed him. I failed my husband, I failed his brothers who were so desperately awaiting his arrival. I failed his grandparents…his Aunts, his Uncles….. I failed myself.
A week later, at 35 weeks pregnant, I was induced and our beautiful baby boy was born….. sound asleep. I will always remember that overwhelming feeling, just moments after I felt him leave my body, of hoping beyond hope for a cry… that somehow the doctor’s were wrong… that he fought through… I prayed for some kind of miracle as the primal screams of desperation escaped me.
We were able to spend so much precious, memorable time with our boy. We named him Nicholas Warren and he was perfect. He’s still as perfect as ever. He has such a strong presence in our lives. Nicholas is loved, remembered and honoured every single day in our home.
Fast forward to today. I wish I could say that this all makes sense now. That there is some greater purpose of forever walking this road of missing our baby boy. I’m not ready to say that. I’ll never be ready to say that. Today, none of what happened makes any sense to me. I will never accept that our baby had to die for a reason or that God has another plan for him. I don’t believe that. I certainly don’t embrace it. What I do know is that somewhere along my journey I made a promise to myself, my family and especially to Nicholas. I promised that the anguish that resides in my heart over losing him will not define me, but rather, the gratitude and distinct honour of being chosen to be his mommy will soar above all else.
The message I would like to convey tonight is that after surviving the unimaginable, there is hope. There are lighter and brighter days down the road. No matter how far along we are in this journey we must remember to be gentle on ourselves. Be patient. Be kind. Remember. Love and be loved. The sadness, the desperation, the anger… these feelings are all a part of the process. Let yourself go to those dark places, but please, remember the light too. As difficult as it is to accept that time marches on while our world has seemingly come to a crashing halt…. time is our ally. Time softens the pain. Time allows us to remember the good and not always the bad. I know that I will always physically ache for Nicholas. I often say “I miss your body in my body, I miss your soul in my soul… but mostly, I miss your life in my life”, but I also feel like that “ache” has transformed. I have learned to allow joy and grief cohabitate in my heart. It never ceases to amaze me how such definitive opposites can co-mingle so gracefully.
A very old friend once said to me; “I am not a religious person, however I have always believed in Guardian Angels. How bittersweet that you got to meet yours”… what a truly beautiful perspective.
So, I thought I would share a few key things that have helped to lift me on this difficult journey.
Firstly, I found such a huge and fantastic support system on-line. I began a blog for Nicholas, called Nicholas’ Touch where I document my most intimate, raw and candid thoughts, images, emotions. I can honestly say that writing, reaching out to others in similar situations has been amazingly cathartic for me. I am constantly amazed and humbled by the connections I have made with women who live sometimes an ocean away. I feel like I have given Nicholas somewhere tangible to be honoured. A special place for only him and I. A place where I can pour out my love for my son and maybe help others along the way. A place where our other son’s and daughter can visit one day and learn more about their brother. I feel honoured to have that opportunity. On my worst days, it gives me focus, strength and a spirit to keep on fighting.
I also have another blog. An initiative I began a few months into this journey. It’s called the Angel Wings Memorial Boutique. I create hand crafted Angel Wings for babies and children gone too soon. These Angel Wings have flown all over the world, including Australia, England, Spain… The wings are a gift from my Angel to yours. I rely solely on donations to keep the Boutique going. I find tremendous comfort in knowing that Nicholas’ legacy lives on, especially through the wings.
Having said all that….I’d like to leave you with a quote by Maya Angelou….. one that inspires me every day.
“When great souls die, our reality, bound to them, takes leave of us. Our minds formed and informed by their radiance, fall away…..And when great souls die, after a period, peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed…. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed”.
Remember, our Angels are never too far away. They are in the whispers of the wind, the first spring bloom of the season.. the fluffy, white snowflakes that melt on our nose..they are in the crimson sunsets and marshmallow clouds…they are flying on butterfly wings and they are in the ladybug that lands and decides to stay for a while. Where ever you choose to “see” your Angel is the perfect spot… embrace those moments… there are always more to come.
Love and strength to you all. Peaceful healing…
Leanna blogs at http://nicholastouch.blogspot.com
You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org